Spring Cleaning Carnival: Get the Pesticides Out!

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What a treat! It’s Laura of Heavenly Homemakers popping over for a chat today, sharing her story about organic gardening, a subject she knows plenty about! See all the past topics and hostesses here.


My Organic Story

Seven years ago, I didn’t know.

I didn’t think about the earth. I didn’t think about the soil. I didn’t think about what I was feeding my family.

Of course I cared about my family…I just didn’t KNOW.

I didn’t know that almost all of the foods I was feeding them were loaded with pesticides (and a whole lot of other nasty things). I didn’t know that when I sprinkled “bug killer” on my tomato plants I was harming the soil, the water and most of all…my family. The large, bold “KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN” notice on the bug poison bag, along with all the instructions that followed telling me what to do in case my children found the stuff might have given me a clue…but I just used it anyway.

I can beat myself up about all of this, but a wise person once told me, “Laura…you can’t help what you don’t know.”  Ooh, it’s true isn’t it? If you don’t know, you don’t know.

But now I know. Now I understand. Now I do everything I can to avoid pesticides in my garden and in the food we eat.

You Need to Know, Too

So, why are pesticides bad? Well, the short answer is…pesticides kill living things. Pesticides aren’t food. Pesticides are harmful chemicals that are not made to be ingested. Remember, the packages warn us NOT to ingest them?

But when pesticides are used in our gardens, or more importantly, in the food that is mass produced and processed for our consumption…we are in fact ingesting them. Try as we might, we can’t always “wash” pesticides off of our food.

When pesticides are sprayed over a field to kill critters, they have to land somewhere. They absorb right into the soil. Then, nutrients and “stuff” from the soil grow up into the plant and into the food growing there. Therefore, pesticides from the soil grow right up into the food. INTO the food.

organic garden at Laura's place

And, did you know that there are over 4.5 billion pounds of pesticides used annually?

It’s disheartening. It can make you afraid of the foods that by all rights should be considered healthy. You know, like an apple?

So what can we do? Is there a way to grow our food without pesticides? Is there a way to purchase organic food without breaking the bank? Is there a way to grow organic food in our own gardens without spending a lot of extra time and money? Absolutely!

To Be Continued…

Hop on over to Laura’s place, where she’ll give you the practical lowdown on getting the pesticides out. There’s also a linky opportunity for bloggers, which means all readers can benefit from many other perspectives.

My entry this week is a little essay on why I love finding bugs in my lettuce. For real. For more links on prioritizing organic produce, see this week’s Monday Mission. Next week we’ll focus on getting the clutter out with Mandi from Organizing Your Way, and the following week, debt, will bring the carnival to a close.


This theme is perfect for a giveaway of Laura’s eBook, Heavenly Homemaker’s Guide to Gardening and Preserving, along with some gardening supplies to get you going from Espoma, a great resource for organic gardeners. Click over here to see the goodies and sign up for the giveaway. Comments at this post, while appreciated, will not count for the giveaway entries.

If you haven’t caught my new eBook, Healthy Snacks to Go, you’ll want to grab one before the crazy busy time of summer comes. Over 30 recipes for travel-worthy snacks made with real food ingredients!

Disclosure: See my full disclosure statement here. Photo from Laura’s house…she took it, not me, alas…

Click here for my disclaimer and advertising disclosure - affiliate links in this post will earn commission based on sales, but it doesn't change your price.

16 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. says

    Learning about pesticides was eye opening for me – it changed the way I thought about everything. And, I agree – the more you know, the more you know. I’ll never be the same.

    This is a comment so I’ll keep it short – but educating others is the way to go. I always share what I learn with my husband but never force him to do anything. Wouldn’t you know that he now comes home from the store with organic produce and dairy, thoroughly enjoys our meatless dinners, bought organic mulch, and planted our raised beds with everything organic. :)

  2. says

    While I agree that we should not be eating pesticides if it all possible, it is important for people to understand a few things about them:

    1) Pesticides break down into their basic chemical components (carbon, nitrogen, etc), once they are in the soil. That is the way all pesticides must be made. So you’re not actually eating pesticides…you’re eating nitrogen and other basic compounds found in nature.

    2) Conventional produce is grown along strict standards for harvesting…they have to wait a certain number of days after anything has been sprayed to harvest. By the time you get produce in the grocery stores, any chemicals sprayed on your food have long ago broken down into their basic parts.

    I am not celebrating pesticides or encouraging anyone to eat them: however, I thought for a long time that I was actually EATING pesticides, when in fact we are eating the same things that we already find in nature.

    Another thing about buying organic produce in the store: because “organic” label pesticides are generally less effective, your produce may be sprayed more than conventional produce. Also, some organic-certified sprays (such as copper, for instance), are more harmful for you than conventional pesticides.

    Just a reminder that the situation is more complicated than we’d like to think. :/

    • Katie says

      It’s always more complicated than we think, isn’t it?! Phooey. Are you thinking fertilizers? I don’t know that pesticides break down into basic parts, really? I wonder how the EWG determines the chemical load found in our bodies from pesticides and fertilizers, then, for the Dirty Dozen. Also, there is a dead zone in the ocean from too much synthetic nitrogen running off down the Mississippi from the midwest farms. I guess that fits your theory in a way, b/c it’s just the nitrogen, but too much of it isn’t good!

      Thanks for the food for thought – if you have any reference sources, you know I’d love to dig into them. 😉 Katie

  3. says

    Oh good! One of my most favorite topics! Thank you for bringing it up!!
    I eat almost exclusively organic. No, it’s not cheep, no it’s not easy to find the right food. But I think it’s worth it 100%. Much better than say, cancer?
    Sweet Terri (above) those nasty chemicals don’t break down that easily, please don’t be fooled. Let me give you an example. In CA, they have orange groves, tons of them. For whatever reason, some of them were sold off and the land was sold for homes. This land that once grew food, now was a neighborhood. They wanted to put in a park, but when they tested the soil, it was too contaminated with poisons to be safe for children to play on. It did not meet the safety standards. Who thinks that’s a good place to eat from? To grow food? Well, that’s exactly why it was contaminated. I concur with what she says in this article, once the pesticide is in the soil it travels into the plant. Just like what we put into our bodies, goes in. They eat and drink from the soil, and if it has poison in it, so does the plant. And one of the many, many reasons I eat organic.
    Thanks so much for spreading awareness!! I can’t wait to visit her site.
    .-= rachsbabycakes´s last blog ..Quick Classic Berry Tart =-.

  4. Katie says

    Thank you so much Terri for explaining that so thoroughly. There are definitely two sides to the issue but it is not as simple as “pesticides are sprayed on food thus you are eating pesticides.”

  5. says

    I agree that it is amazing how much we just don’t know about how big businesses work – in terms of food but most other products as well. Pesticides at home are extra scary because they are so easily accessed by kids and pets – we have been striving to get all toxic ingest-ables out of the house. And it is a challenge but doable!
    .-= Tan@tan/green´s last blog ..Swathed in pesticides?? =-.

  6. tina says

    Terri – good info you provided. I buy organic produce when I can. Because the soil is depleted, I don’t think organic produce offers anymore minerals or vitamins than conventional.

    I’m going to plant my own garden and use fish fertilier because the oceans and the foods we eat from the oceans actually have all the minerals – about 80 more than our soils.

  7. Emma in Oz says

    I read in the paper here in Australia recently about a review of studies showing that organic produce is no better in terms of nutrition than organic food. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/sunday-telegraph/benefits-of-organic-food-a-myth/story-e6frewt0-1225861032056
    But as I said to a smirking friend who had actually cut the article out to show me, it’s more about what’s NOT in organic produce that leads me to buy it whenever I can.
    Buying my produce at a farmer’s market also ensures that I am buying locally grown produce that hasn’t travelled hundreds of miles to get to my table, further reducing my carbon footprint.
    I also believe that eating seasonal produce has numerous health benefits, is it a coincidence that citrus fruits, with their high vitamin C content ripen in the cold and flu season?
    There are many aspects to this debate but I will contine to buy organic whenever I can and to grow my own little patch of vegies with only organic compost, chilli and garlic spray for pest control and dishes of beer for the slugs and snails. So they have a few holes…. I don’t mind sharing!

    • Katie says

      Ditto ALL that! What a great synopsis against that study that found “organic produce isn’t healthier” than conventionally grown. You’re dead on – it’s about what’s not in there on this issue, mainly. Love it!
      :) Katie

  8. says

    “why I love finding bugs in my lettuce” — ha! Yesterday I ate two artichokes from our garden and kept weeding out little black bugs as I ate. Just makes ya wonder about all those bug-less artichokes from the store you may have been eating for years :) — what did they have to spray those babies with to get rid of all the bugs?

  9. says

    I agree with you Katie. I am an organic landscaper/ gardener for the past 8 years. The more I know about chemical pesticides the scarier it gets. How is Round-up going to break down indoor if there is no sunlight or air to speed up the decomposition process?( which by the way, the active ingredient of round-up is agent orange). Anybody using synthetic pesticides/ herbicides/ fertilizers are also using glyphosate (agent orange).Also, all those GMO’s that are Round-up ready will most definitely be mankind’s greatest mistake according to Don Huber, professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology at Purdue in West Lafayette. “If we know the Roundup is making the cows, the pigs and the chickens sterile, and the product is causing spontaneous abortions in farm animals, what is it doing to us?”
    I believe there is an organic solution for everything. People are just so lazy. Besides, what is the big deal with dandelions???

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